Monday, October 12, 2015

A Whole Lotta Disney

We've talked for a while about getting annual passes to Disneyland especially now that we have Bentley.  We were debating on when to get tickets but when Sean had his birthday off from work we decided that was the day. 

It was a very warm day in Anaheim but the park wasn't as crowded.  We were only staying for a few hours anyway because we both had sport games to get back to at home.  We figured we would start small as we maneuvered Disneyland for the first time with an infant.

Bentley's first ride was Pinocchio which she slept the entire time.  I was a little surprised because that ride was loud for me!  We were encouraged by this knowing we could take her on anything.  We then met up with some friends and rode Its a Small World.  After that we caught some lunch and our friends had to leave.  We decided to try to do one Parent Switch (technically called Rider Swap) before we headed out so we went on Thunder Mountain (my favorite ride).  I ended up getting seated next to someone which got awkward after the first bend on the coaster when they rammed into me.  :)
In line for Pinocchio

I was a bit worried about her being burned since it was such a hot and sunny day
Bentley's first visit to Disneyland

Had to get a Birthday button for Sean since it was really his birthday
Birthday Boy and his Girl
We have friends who say to count the tram ride as a ride :)
Overall we had a great experience at Disneyland.  It was also such a fun way to spend Sean's birthday which was topped off with a softball game and seven minute frosting cake at home. 

We decided to go back to Disneyland a couple of weeks later.  This time it was less pleasant because it was on one of the Trick or Treat days and it got crowded!  But we made the most of it and went on a few rides as single riders and using Rider Swap.  So far our favorite Rider Swap is Space Mountain because you literally walk right onto the ride as the second parent. 
We always try to do something new so we went to the Big Thunder Ranch to look at the animals.  Good thing too since it will be permanently closing in January.

Single Riding it on Matterhorn.

Waiting for Sean after he did Single Rider for Indiana Jones.

We had another first visit button for Bentley when we hopped over to California Adventure

Bentley LOVED Little Mermaid.  I think all the bright colors were so interesting to her

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Bentley's First Trip

I knew that I didn't want having a kid stop me from traveling and seeing sights (both local and afar).  Last weekend we decided that we would take Bentley on her first trip.  We wanted to head to the coast since it was going to be 100 degrees at home.  We chose Santa Barbara as our destination.

Both Sean and I had never been to Santa Barbara and we were both super impressed with how quaint it was.  We parked downtown and walked the streets, picked a random cafe to eat at, splurged at a candy store, took in the views from the courthouse tower and took a stroll around Shoreline Park.  Bentley was very well behaved (she slept through pretty much all of it) and we talked about how we wanted to come back for a weekend getaway since there was still so much more we wanted to see.

Bentley is getting so good at grasping things!

Ate outside in a very European-feel cafe (inspired us to talk about our next European trip)
We sat outside at this very quaint (and good!) cafe.

One of the many little alleys to explore!

A trip to a beach city is not complete without some salt water taffy.

One of many super cute theaters along State Street.

Of course I had to find the cool history of the area!
Must see for those visiting Santa Barbara!

View from the Courthouse.

Me and my honey!

I loved the details and theme of the courthouse.  I need to take a docent tour next time!

Bentley loved her first trip!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Bentley's Birth Story

When people found out that I had given birth to Bentley many asked if I did it "naturally."  Sean and I were confused on how to answer this question because we didn't know what people defined as "natural."  So, did I get an epidural?  Yes!  Did I get induced?  No.

Did our delivery go as expected?  Not really.  Here's as short of a version as I could come up with of Bentley's birth story.

The morning Bentley was born I woke up like any other day.  As I was getting up I started to have some pretty strong pains.  I had pains periodically throughout the week so I thought it was just one of those episodes.  Usually a shower made me feel better.  This time it didn't.  I decided to drink some water thinking I was dehydrated.  That didn't make me feel better either.  I was timing the pains and they were every 2-3 minutes and pretty intense.  I decided I couldn't wait the obligatory 1-2 hour of timing contractions before heading to the hospital.  I called Sean and told him I was going.  He told me to call someone to drive me to the hospital.  I told him I couldn't wait the 10-15 minutes it would take to have someone came pick me up.  In that amount of time I could be at the hospital myself.

So I drove myself to the hospital while having contractions every 2-3 minutes.  I checked in around 8:30 and the nurses were impressed that I started out this far into my labor.  When I knew it was the real deal I called Sean and told him to leave work.  My epidural came soon after and I felt great!  I progressed nicely throughout the day.  Around noon my doctor broke my water.  I believe they were expecting me to dilate faster after that but we later learned not all my water broke so I took several hours longer.
Very happy with my epidural
Eventually the big moment came.  It was very surreal.  With my epidural working so well it was weird to be told to push when you really couldn't feel anything to push.  At 6:18 pm Bentley was born.  That's when the unexpected happened. 

I remember the Doctor suctioning out Bentley's nose and mouth for a minute and then handing her off to the respiratory and newborn nurses where they had a little newborn station set up.  I knew something wasn't right because I was repeatedly told that baby would be handed to mom right after birth to start the bonding process.  Sean left my side so he could have a better view of Bentley.  He told me later she really wasnt moving and was a little gray looking.  She basically failed her APGAR test and was being worked on by the nurses.  Sean would look at me and give me thumbs up to try to reassure me.  Eventually the nurses said that she would be taken to the NICU for observation.  They brought in an incubator, placed her in there and Sean followed them out.

It was a very surreal moment, I had just given birth and didn't even see my baby at all.  Soon after they left I started to not feel good.  My vision got spotty and I knew I was getting close to passing out.  I also felt like throwing up.  It was a pretty horrible feeling.  I mentioned to no one in particular that I felt like passing out and all of sudden there was an increase of activity.  The doctor ordered a second IV to go into my arm.  The nurses were very professional, systematic and calm.  Within 5 minutes I was feeling completely normal again.  What I later learned was that I had a postpartum hemorrhage which affects up to 6% of pregnancies.  I had a torn capillary that was gushing blood and I ended up loosing an estimated 2 liters of blood (in comparison I was told an average birth looses about 1/2 a liter).  The Doctor was concerned that I lost too much blood and would need a transfusion.  My blood was drawn for a complete blood count to see if the transfusion was necessary.  After the results came back they determined it was at a current level that didn't require a transfusion but I would get checked again in the morning.  In the end I didn't need a transfusion.  In fact the Doctor was impressed with my levels saying they were right in the target area for normalcy after giving birth.  I was on extra doses of iron in the preceding weeks and I wonder if that helped with those numbers.

Sean spent about 45 minutes in the NICU with Bentley and when he came back he gave me the news that she was doing fine and they discovered through xray that a couple of air sacks had burst collapsing the lung slightly.  The nurses were optimistic that it would be healed in no time.  I asked Sean if he heard what had happened to me and he said no.  The nurse told him I almost bled out.  Poor Sean, he first spent some time in the NICU with his baby only to come back to find out his wife had major complications too.

I was observed closely and ultimately never had residual effects from the hemorrhage.  I was discharged after two nights in the hospital.  Bentley however was still being observed and we had to leave the hospital without her.

Having a baby in the NICU was hard especially since they took her away without me even seeing her.  When Sean came back after going with her to the NICU he showed me some pictures he took.  She was all swollen and hooked up to tubes.  It was kinda weird to think this was my baby.  I didn't really feel connected to her.  It was several hours later before they thought I was fit enough to be wheeled to the NICU to see her.  Sean had already visited her a couple of times by then.  He kept saying we needed to name her but I told him there was no way that I was going to name her without even seeing her for myself.
This was the first time I saw my baby and it was on Sean's phone.
When we got to see her late that night we weren't able to hold her.  We were able to put our hands in the incubator and touch her.  I told Sean we had to postpone naming her till I could actually hold her.  We went back the next day and we still couldn't hold her.  We were told that her lung continued to heal and that perhaps later in the evening we could hold her.  I knew my baby would be fine and it just would take a matter of time.
Touching her for the first time hours after she was born.
Later in the evening we went back and we were able to hold her and do some skin to skin.  She was still hooked up to all her tubes so it was a little difficult to maneuver it but we did it.  It was our first family photo too!  I have to admit, it was hard to hold back the tears as it had been 24 hours and I was holding her for the first time.  The connection to my baby was slowly taking affect.  We also were able to finally decide on a name.  Interestingly enough Bentley was neither Sean nor I's #1 name but it was the name that kept coming back to both of us when we thought of her.
Holding her for the first time (I also look super young here!)

Sean holding her for the first time.

First family photo!
We spent some more time with her the day I was discharged.  We were met with a pleasant surprise, all her tubes were removed save her IV!  We could actually see her face!  It was weird leaving the hospital without her.  You go to the hospital to give birth to come home with a baby, not leave without one.  We got up early the next day to plan on spending the day at the NICU when I got a call from our nurse.  Bentley was able to come home that day!  We were so excited!  They said that since the collapsed lung was so small and thanks to her being a large baby it completely healed on its own.  She had a clean bill of health!  We brought our baby girl home!
The nurse put a cute little pink bow in her hair when we came to take her home.
How grateful I was that we were able to give birth in a hospital where there were competent staff and modern medicine to help me and my baby survive a less than ideal delivery.  In the end both of us walked away without any further complications. 
We decided to do our own Golden Hour at home (the uninterrupted family time right after birth).

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Ten Years Since My Trip to Jordan

This past month I've thought a lot of what I was doing exactly 10 years ago which was my life changing experience of living in the country of Jordan.  How did I get to living in Jordan for 2 months digging around in the dirt?

I majored in Archaeology and each student had to participate in field school (i.e. an expedition).  Most years the field school was to go to Southern Utah/Four Corners area but every several years they would send the students out to Petra National Park in Jordan.  I was lucky to be there for that year.

I was super excited.  This was going to be my very first time out of the country (I had never even been to Mexico or Canada).  Since it was post 9/11 I was often asked if I was nervous to go to a Middle Eastern country.  Honestly I was not worried at all, in fact, since I had taken a couple of courses on Islamic culture and religion I was very excited to have first hand experiences.

We flew from Salt Lake City to New York to Paris and then finally to Amman.  We spent the night in Amman before heading to a small village called Um Sayhoum outside Petra.  Petra was the film location of the tomb that held the Holy Grail in the 3rd Indiana Jones movie.  When we weren't playing archaeologists we played tourists and explored the amazing sights of the ancient culture, the Nabateans.  Here's the history in a nutshell, the Nabatean's heyday occupation was between the 1st century BC and 1st Century AD.  They were able to successfully keep the Romans out because of natural defenses, namely the Siq, a long narrow passageway to the main portions of the settlement.  They were innovative with being able to collect and display water through huge cisterns, piping and fountains.  They prospered because of their location along the Silk Road.  Eventually they fell and through the centuries various groups of people occupied the area.
Perfect example of the Siq.  You can also see the roman roadwork and the cut outs on the side where water collected

Remnant of a camel and person as decoration for the water passages.
Close up to the water passages.
Recognize it from the Indiana Jones movie?
El-Khaznah or the Treasury, no grail inside, just a big open room.
This is from the Treasury looking back towards the Siq.
This was the main drag of town, shops would've been set up along this.
This is the Temple my director excavated during HIS field school in the 70s
Brown University excavates this large temple complex.
This is my scare-the-crap-out-of-your-parents photo.  I wasn't too close to the edge ;)
Riding a camel is not like riding a horse.
Located in the next town over, this is the traditional spot where Moses hit a rock and water came forth (Numbers 20:11).  This is considered Holy Water and people come to collect it.  I have a bottle myself.
Eating dinner with our hosts at one of his other houses.

The long walk up to El-Deir or the Monastery, my FAVORITE place in Petra.
There are no words to describe this location.  It is HUGE! You can see me at the entrance.  It was re-purposed as a monastery during the middle ages.  It was also used as a film location in the second Transformers movie (the only reason why I actually watched the movie).
Part of the entrance to a Crusaders Fort.
Jebel Huron, traditional burial place of Aaron, the brother of Moses (Numbers 20:28)
How we traveled to Jebel Huron, at least till the truck couldn't go any further.
We traveled the rest of the way on foot.
The local people are descendants of the Nabatean and used to live with in the many tombs throughout the park.  The government built a village nearby and started moving the bedouin people there to clean out the park.  The success of the Indiana Jones movie helped push this along.     
This tomb was the family home of the people we lived with.
The bedouin village as seen from the park.
Our host family lived on the first floor and we took over the 2nd and 3rd floors.  I loved going on the roof to hang out and watch the stars.
They did our laundry.  There was a donkey that lived in the back yard so sometimes the donkey would rub up against your drying clothes.  We all took it in stride.

Two of the daughters cooked for us.
We had two sites we excavated, a multi-generational tomb and a triclinium which was a ritual eating place.  Some days it was hard labor.  We dug up buckets of dirt and sifted them for things we missed and then dumped the extra dirt.  But we also had plenty of mini adventures: we worked through a sand storm, got interrogated by undercover CIA agents, called a gold finding a Dragonfly because we didn't want our Guard to come loot our sight at night looking for more, got caught in a grave with a scorpion, saw snakes eating lizards, had goats walk right through our sites, amongst more.

Mapping our site before we started digging.
Tons of dirt blown in.  You can barely see the wall exposed at the entrance, compare to the next photo...
After we were all done.  You can compare to see how much dirt we had to remove.
Sometimes we had to be very meticulous with our excavating.
Love this picture!  It seems to capture it all.  Waiting for dirt to sift, carrying buckets to be dumped, and being exhausted by the labor of it all.
Sometimes we had to be creative on how we removed the dirt as to not damage what was underneath.

Our "Dragonfly"
One of two partially articulated skeletons we found.
It was such an amazing experience that I spent months and even years constantly referencing back to my experiences there.  Over the past month I've thought to myself, why was it a life changing experience?  What did I learn that was unique to that experience?  These are some of the things that came to mind.

1. Life can be lived in many different ways.  Seeing the bedouin live in a style that is completely different than my own puts my own style of living in persepctive.  Not only has it allowed me to have appreciation for things but it also has made me see the excess that I have and try to live more simply.  This reminds me of the hashtag, First World Problems.  It's pretty ridiculous the things we get upset over so I find that I've become a lot more easy going and don't let things bother me as much.

2. There is beauty everywhere.  Going into my trip I wouldn't have said that there is a lot of beauty in the desert but after living there for 2 months I can appreciate the beauty that is there.  I can still close my eyes and see the landscape and I get a small pang of nostalgia. 
Taken from the roof and therefore the scene I saw most.  This is what I see when I close my eyes and think about Jordan.
3.  Learning of other religions help me to understand my own.  Learning from first hand experiences is also different from learning from a book or even media, ESPECIALLY media.   Seeing how other people worship helps me to understand how God loves all His children and how similar we all are in our practices.  It has allowed me to be a better human being and brought me closer to God and becoming like God.

4. Plain and simple, trying new things stretches you.  It may make you slightly uncomfortable at first but then you grow from those experiences.  This is good for your mental health.  I noticed after I came home I had a new confidence that I didn't have beforehand.  I still face situations that are slightly uncomfortable or something I rather not do, but because of the growth I experienced there, I can face it with a stronger resolve.

If you get a chance to visit Petra, you need to take it.  It was such a unique and amazing place to visit.  I'm so gratful my field school was in Jordan and not Southern Utah.  I think my life would be a bit different if that were the case. Who knew 2 months could affect you so much?